Diary of a Digital Librarian

Excerpts from my working life

Library users of the future

I read a posting on the Fail!Lab blog by M Ryan Hess about the looming obsolescence of library websites.

According to Hess, the up and coming generation of library users will be accustomed to accessing information through new interfaces, including smartphone apps, wearable devices, and artificial intelligent agents.  They will never visit a library website.

These library users will expect their interfaces to do more of the ‘heavy lifting’ & will see a much more ‘curated and manageable web’. Therefore libraries have a lot of work ahead of them to adapt.

This made me think about my own experience of how people from my generation (and the younger ones following behind) use technology. When I was in my teens the assumption was that us kids would suck up technical knowledge & skills as naturally as a fish breathes water.  We would all be tech adepts of one sort or the other.

This has not happened.  Instead most people I know (myself included) use technology in a very superficial way, using the interfaces wiser and more knowledgeable people have made for us.  Either we never got the education at school, or we weren’t sufficiently interested to teach ourselves.  We can do email, Facebook, or Twitter, search Google, draft documents, but that’s about it.

Unless you are a tech geek, (or your parents bought you a Raspberry Pi or something like it), people blithely use technology (not just computers) without any deeper understanding of how it works.

There is no need to. Since computers went mainstream, designers have laboured to produce devices that anyone could use, and with each generation of machine they get closer to succeeding.

These are the people libraries need to prepare to cater for when designing the interfaces of the future.

  • 17 January 2013
  • 1